Last September, an El Dorado fire started in El Dorado Park. The flames were allegedly the result of an over-the-top gender reveal, Buzzfeed reports.
As reports revealed, Refugio Manuel Jimenez Jr. and Angela Renee Jimenez set off a smoke bomb in El Dorado Park to reveal the sex of their unborn child. The bomb was reportedly the inception of a 23-day fire that burned 22,000 acres of land.
Also as a result of the fire, five homes were destroyed, hundreds were displaced for a time, two firefighters were injured, and one was killed. Charles Morton has since been identified as that firefighter that lost his life. He was 39 years old.
“Thursday evening we lost one of our own,” Chief Vicki Christiansen said at the time. “Charlie Morton, Squad Boss for the Big Bear Interagency Hotshot Crew of the San Bernardino National Forest, was tragically killed during efforts to suppress the El Dorado Fire on their home unit. Our hearts go out to Charlie’s loved ones, friends, coworkers, and the Big Bear Hotshots.”
Now, in addition to, being charged with three felony counts of recklessly causing a fire with great bodily injury, four felony counts of recklessly causing a fire to inhabited structures, and 22 misdemeanors of recklessly causing fire to property.
The couple has also been charged with one count of involuntary manslaughter. They have since pleaded not guilty to all charges.
San Bernardino County District Attorney Jason Anderson also announced that if found guilty, Refugio Manuel and Angela Renee could face up to 20 years in prison. According to Anderson, this is a “complex case” due to the fact the fire had a “tremendous impact” on the El Dorado community.
In response to the involuntary manslaughter charged, Anderson said, according to The New York Times, “Obviously, he wouldn’t have been out there if this hadn’t started in the first place. He’s fighting a fire that was started because of a smoke bomb. That’s the only reason he’s there.”
However, the decision to charge the couple responsible for the gender reveal with involuntary manslaughter has become a much-debated topic over the last two days.
“I live in Southern California, where wildflowers have overtaken earthquakes as our worst ‘natural’ disasters,” one Twitter user wrote. “That said, as stupid as their actions were and as catastrophic the result, I’d like to think that complete absence of malice and intent would be factored into any sentencing.”
“Wow. This was the stupidest idea, and it was done in a pandemic when we were on lockdown, but how tragic that they definitely will hurt the future of the children for such a silly, self-centered decision,” another Twitter user wrote.
“Oof 30 years? Damn, they found out they’re having a baby, did that stupid gender reveal, and now if they get 30 years they aren’t even gonna be able to parent that child. Idk if that was too little/too much time as [I don’t know] the truest extent of the damage (I live in NY) but oof,” said another.
“I grew up in California. You cannot plead ignorance on anything concerning fire or fire safety,” another wrote. “Not one damned word.”
The couple has since been released as they await their September 15 court date.
Sara Vallone has been a writer and editor for the last four and a half years. A graduate of Ohio University, she enjoys celebrity news, sports, and articles that enhance people’s lives.
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